Super Typhoon Francisco Becomes Earth's 3rd Category 5 Storm of 2013

Published: 5:02 PM GMT on October 19, 2013

Mighty Super Typhoon Francisco has intensified to become Earth's third Category 5 storm of 2013. The other two Cat 5s were Cyclone Phailin, which hit India earlier this month at Category 3 or 4 strength, killing 44 and causing at least $1 billion in damage, and Super Typhoon Usagi, which hit China just east of Hong Kong as a Category 2 storm on September 22, killing 50 and causing at least $3.8 billion in damage. Satellite loops show a spectacular, well-organized storm with an impressive area of heavy thunderstorms and a prominent eye. With warm waters that extend to great depth and low wind shear, Francisco is likely to stay at Category 5 strength until an eyewall replacement cycle begins. Francisco is headed northwest towards Japan, and will likely stay at Category 4 or stronger intensity until Tuesday, when the storm will encounter higher wind shear and cooler waters. By the time Franciso makes its closest approach to Japan on Thursday, weakening to Category 2 or lesser strength is likely. In their Saturday morning runs, both the European model and GFS model predicted that Francisco would turn northeastwards on Wednesday, and hit Japan on Thursday. There is very high uncertainty in the storm's track that far into the future, though, since the timing of Francisco's turn the northeast is difficult to predict.

Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Typhoon Francisco, taken at approximately 03 UTC on October 19, 2013. At the time, Francisco was a Category 5 storm with top winds of 160 mph. Image credit: NASA.

The Atlantic is quiet
None of the reliable computer models for forecasting tropical cyclone genesis is predicting development over the next five days.

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Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.